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Mental health ‘Safe Haven’ opens for young people

A mental health service aimed specifically at school-age children has opened in Aldershot.

The Young Persons Safe Haven, in Hillside Road, is modelled on the award-winning adult service based in the town’s Wellbeing Centre.

The new service offers support to any young person, aged 10 to 17, who walks through the door and needs help coping with issues such as anxiety, depression, stress or self-harm. The service also extends to the young people’s family members and carers.

Judi Page, a director of Just Wellbeing, which runs the service, said: “It is a place for young people to come and talk about what’s troubling them, rather than being on their own, self-harming or escalating into something more serious.”

Just Wellbeing became involved with two schools in Rushmoor and one in Farnham because of the number of young people who were missing school as a result of stress and other mental health conditions. The organisation worked with students to devise a questionnaire to see what kind of mental health support they wanted to see. They received 1,600 responses.

“The responses were that they wanted somewhere to go, after school, where they could just talk to somebody,” said Judi. “Parents also wanted somewhere where they knew their child would be safe. It’s all about early intervention. If we can intervene early then hopefully it will save long-term problems developing and even save lives.”

The service is run by fully trained and experienced mental health professionals and operates between 6.30pm and 8.30pm from Tuesday to Friday and the same time on Sunday. No appointment is necessary. A free helpline is also available within these hours: 0800 061 4132.

Dr Olive Fairbairn, Clinical Director for Mental Health and Maternity and Children’s services at NHS North East Hampshire and Farnham Clinical Commissioning Group, which helped to set up and fund the service, said: “While many children are enjoying what should be a fun, exciting time in their lives, sadly there are those who struggle daily with mental health issues – issues which can cause misery later in life if they are not caught and dealt with, or managed, at an early stage.

“We have had great success with the adult Safe Haven, primarily because we designed it with the people we wanted to help, so it was tailor-made for their needs. By following the same process and working with young people to create this new service, we should be in a good position to help to reduce the pressures local children and young people are under and to help them get the most out of this precious and formative time in their life.” 

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